In May of 2000, St. John’s University’s College of Business Administration was renamed The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. This was the first time in the University’s then-130-year history that a school was named after a private individual, and it came on the heels of a historic $10.25 million donation from Peter Tobin (’65CBA, ’96HON) and his wife, Mary ’00HON. At the time, it was the single largest donation in the University’s history.
Two years before, Mr. Tobin assumed the deanship of the College of Business after completing an incredibly successful career in finance that culminated in his service as Chief Financial Officer for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, Chemical Bank, and Chase Manhattan Bank.
As soon as he was appointed Dean, Mr. Tobin charted an aggressive course for the school, adding new programs, hiring faculty, and renewing American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (now the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation by the International Association for Management Education.
Perhaps his most important accomplishment was supervising the 2001 integration of The College of Insurance, now known as the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science, into the Tobin College. The merger created a powerful business education program for students and gave St. John’s a Manhattan, NY, campus for the first time in its history.
Today, under the leadership of Norean R. Sharpe, Ph.D., Dean, Joseph H. and Maria C. Schwartz Distinguished Chair and Professor of Decision Sciences, the school enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the top business schools in the country.
Leaping 27 spots from the previous year, the College is now ranked number 50 by Poets&Quants on its annual list of the Best Undergraduate Business Schools of 2020. Tobin’s online M.S. in Accounting (M.S.A.) and M.S. in Taxation (M.S.T.) programs are ranked 19th in U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings report, up from 45 in 2019. U.S. News & World Report also ranked Tobin’s undergraduate insurance program #11 of all undergraduate insurance programs in the US.
At St. John’s, Mr. Tobin learned the lessons that would serve him so well throughout his career, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Accounting from St. John’s College of Business Administration in 1965. From there, he went to the accounting firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and in 1972 he moved to Manufacturers Hanover Trust. Mr. Tobin attained the position of Chief Financial Officer in 1985, a position he kept through the administrative changes brought about by mergers with both Chemical Bank and Chase Manhattan Corporation.
When Mr. Tobin was offered the position of Dean of the College of Business, his only request was to have Mary work there with him. As Director of Special Projects for the Tobin College of Business, Mrs. Tobin played a pivotal role in the life of St. John’s University as she brought that successful partnership with her husband into a new arena.
In 2009, she was elected to the Board of Trustees, where she served for seven years. She left the Board in 2016 and that same year was made Trustee Emerita. Mrs. Tobin passed away in 2018.
Mr. Tobin’s work as Dean was but one example of the depth of his commitment. A longtime member of The Loughlin Society, he assisted in the most recent capital fund-raising effort “Campaign for St. John’s–Fulfilling the Dream. He chaired the Corporate and Foundation Relations Prospect Review Committee, a group of 18 senior executives who support efforts to access new sources of philanthropy that make a college education possible for prospective students with financial needs. He also received the Medal of Honor in 2000, the highest award that can be given to an alumnus.
At the time of the donation, Mr. Tobin discussed his motivation. The contribution was a way for him to give back—but to do so with greater effect.
“We have had a unique view of what is going on in the College and what the needs are,” he stressed. “Those needs are now. To do something 20 years down the road would not have had the kind of impact we think it will have by making this contribution today.”